ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 33

I

n 1996, Mark Miller founded
a company making environmentally safe lubricants from
vegetable oil.
"We were green when green
was still a color," he said.
Along the way, he learned for
himself the well-known weaknesses of these biolubricants. He
also discovered the adaptable
qualities of the estolide molecule,
a biobased synthetic molecule
made from organic fatty acids
found in plant oils.
Then, investors bought an
existing firm called Biosynthetic
Technologies, which had cracked
the processes for extracting
lubricant value from estolides. They
invited him to join the team.
"They needed someone to
run the company and take it
commercial," said Miller, now the
company's CEO. "I always liked
the technology. I liked the molecule. I liked the team."
Today, Biosynthetic Technologies creates biosynthetic base
oils for commercial and industrial
lubricants. Compoundings spoke
with Miller about the present and
future of biosynthetic and environmentally friendly lubricants.

Compoundings: You actually like a
molecule?
Mark Miller: "I could do a whole
presentation called 'Why I like
estolides.' They're biobased, coming
from plants, which makes them
renewable, sustainable and allows
users to do the right thing. They have
a very good environmental profile,
meaning they're readily or ultimately
biodegradable. They're not toxic.
They're nonbioaccumulative. They
don't make a sheen if you spill them
in water. They're really good from an
environmental perspective, and they
give superior performance. It addresses

"The beauty of the estolide is that it's such a customizable molecule
that you can do all kinds of really cool things with it."
- Mark Miller, CEO, Biosynthetic Technologies

all the traditional weaknesses of the
biobased fluid. It fixes the problems
that have been plaguing the biolubricant space for all time."

a team of chemical wizards who know
how to do all that."

Compoundings: What have those
problems traditionally been?
Miller: "Oxidative stability, which
is the ability to operate at high
temperature and negatively affects
life expectancy of the fluid. Another
weakness is hydrolytic stability - the
ability to withstand infiltration by
water. Most of the biobased fluids
have issues if water gets mixed in, and
a lot of the opportunities for these
biolubricants happen around the
water - whether it's maritime, marine
construction or excavating. Finally,
the cold-temperature performance was
also a problem with many of the biolubricant-based fluids, and therefore
the biolubricants. The estolide can
address all of those concerns."

Miller: "We've been able to improve
the processing, so now we're making
commercial quantities. The industry's
been very excited about biosynthetic
lubricants for years but has always
been a little disappointed because they
couldn't get their hands on quantities.
We're reinvigorating some of that
excitement. We recently received our
first commercial batch of one of the
products, and it looks fantastic. We're
giving it out to some of our customers
so they can retrial it or put it in some of
their formulas.
"We're having conversations with
prospects who may want us to tinker
with it - maybe give it a colder pour
point, or less oxidative stability, so we
can really dial in the performance."

Compoundings: How is the molecule massaged to make it do all that?

Compoundings: Which industries
seem most interested?

Miller: "It's derived from vegetable
oil. We like to say we're vegetable-oil
agnostic, but we're mostly focused
on soybean oil and castor oil. They
seem to be most suited for very simple
production. We're starting with a
triglyceride - with a fat - and we're
reacting that into the estolide molecule. The cool thing about estolides
is that because of their reaction, we're
able to manipulate the molecule to do
what we want it to. We could make it
thicker. We could make it thinner. We
could increase the oxidative stability.
We could make it less expensive by
using a different feedstock. It's very,
very flexible, and I'm fortunate to have

Compoundings: Have you achieved
commercial scale?

Miller: "So far, people are looking at
it in the biolubricant space, primarily
in hydraulic fluids and gear oils, which
are big sellers for biobased products.
It's also important for greases. We've
done some work in metalworking and
compressors."
Compoundings: How does incorporating biolubricants into products
enhance corporate social responsibility
initiatives and environmental friendliness labeling?
Miller: "This can be part of any
corporate sustainability project.
Certain regulations now in the
maritime industry mandate use of

33



ILMA Compoundings – September 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ILMA Compoundings – September 2019

LETTER FROM THE CEO
INSIDE ILMA
WHAT’S COMING UP
NEW MEMBERS
INDUSTRY RUNDOWN
IN THE KNOW
INTERNATIONAL INSIGHT
MARKET REPORT
ON WITH THE WIND
IN SUPPORT OF SATISFACTION
SUSTAINABILITY HAS ARRIVED
BUSINESS HUB
COUNSEL COMPOUND
WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE
IN NETWORK
MEMBER CONNECTIONS
PORTRAIT
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - Cover1
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - Cover2
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 1
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 2
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - LETTER FROM THE CEO
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - INSIDE ILMA
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 5
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 6
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 7
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 8
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 9
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - WHAT’S COMING UP
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 11
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 12
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - NEW MEMBERS
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - INDUSTRY RUNDOWN
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 15
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 16
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - IN THE KNOW
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - INTERNATIONAL INSIGHT
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 19
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - MARKET REPORT
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 21
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - ON WITH THE WIND
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 23
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 24
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 25
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 26
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 27
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - IN SUPPORT OF SATISFACTION
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 29
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 30
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 31
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - SUSTAINABILITY HAS ARRIVED
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 33
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 34
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 35
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 36
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 37
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - BUSINESS HUB
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 39
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - COUNSEL COMPOUND
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 41
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 42
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - MEMBER CONNECTIONS
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 45
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 46
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - 47
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - PORTRAIT
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - Cover3
ILMA Compoundings – September 2019 - Cover4
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